Material sciences

  • Engineers at Saarland University Turn Polymer Films into Self-sensing High-tech Actuators

    To showcase their technology at Hannover Messe, the engineers Philipp Linnebach (r.) and Paul Motzki (l.) have come up with a playful way of demonstrating its capabilities. Credit: Oliver Dietze

    They might only be made from thin silicon film, but they can squeeze down hard, deliver a powerful thrust, vibrate or hold any required position. And because they can act as sensors, they are becoming important tools in technical applications. Stefan Seelecke and his team at Saarland University are developing a new generation of polymer film-based engineering components that can be used as continuous switches, self-metering valves, motorless pumps or even as tactile aids for touchscreens. The technology needs neither rare earths nor copper, it is cheap to produce and consumes very little energy and components made using it are astonishingly light.

  • Entangling Photons from a Quantum Dot in the Telecom C-Band

    Schematic representation of a quantum dot emitting polarization entangled photons. The entanglement is here pictorially represented by the transparent connection between the two photons. Sascha Kolatschek, Universität Stuttgart / IHFG

    A research team of the institute of semiconductor optics and functional interfaces (IHFG) of the University of Stuttgart experimentally verified the generation of polarization-entangled photon pairs in the emission wavelength range of the telecom C-band. The generation of entangled photons, i.e. a non-classical phenomenon which “bounds” the states of two different entities, is a cornerstone for the realization of quantum networks.

  • Environmentally Friendly Alternative to Prohibited Hard Chrome Plating Using Chromium(VI)

    World premiere: EHLA system for Laser Material Deposition of piston rods having a length of up to ten meters. © Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany / Hornet Laser Cladding B.V., Lexmond, NL.

    The strict conditions on the use of chromium(VI) for corrosion and wear protection coatings, which will take effect in the EU in September 2017, hit the manufacturers of highly stressed metal components particularly hard. One such company is IHC Vremac Cylinders B.V. in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn. The hydraulic cylinders it manufactures, which often measure many meters in length, have to withstand rough maritime conditions for years. With its choice of an award-winning alternative to hard chrome plating, this Dutch manufacturer has become the first company in the world to coat its components using the EHLA technique developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen.

  • Environmentally Friendly Steel Coatings: Fraunhofer ILT Wins Steel Innovation Award

    On June 13, 2018, the Fraunhofer ILT team took 2nd place at the Steel Innovation Awards in Berlin in the “Steel in Research and Development” category for their EHLA process. © Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.

    Once every three years, the German steel industry presents its Steel Innovation Awards. The purpose of this initiative is to recognize innovations that are helping to ensure this material remains a viable choice for the long term. The jury considers not just products made from steel, but also innovative processes such as Extreme High-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA). For the development of the EHLA process, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen won the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize in 2017. On June 13, 2018, the researchers were honoured with the 2nd Prize of the Steel Innovation Award in the “Steel in Research and Development” category.

  • Etching Microstructures with Lasers

    Structuring process for glass using direct laser ablation with ultrafast laser pulses. Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen / Volker Lannert.

    Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

  • eTRANSAFE – Collaborative Research Project Aimed at Improving Safety in Drug Development Process

    An aim of the project eTRANSAFE is to analyze whether and to what extent preclinical data enable reliable prediction of clinical findings. Felix Schmitt, Fraunhofer ITEM

    (Hannover/Germany) The 40 million euro European project eTRANSAFE, to be kicked off at the end of September 2017, is aimed at speeding up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. Coordinated by the Fundació Institut Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques (IMIM) and led by the pharmaceutical company Novartis, the project consortium is a public-private partnership of eight academic institutions, six SMEs, and twelve pharmaceutical companies. One of the project partners is Fraunhofer ITEM.

  • EU funds research on biofuels and infectious diseases

    Salmolla. © Goethe University Frankfurt.

    FRANKFURT. Two ERC Advanced Investigator Grants of the European Research Council to the amount of € 2.5 million each are going to researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt. Biochemist and physician Professor Ivan Dikic and microbiologist Professor Volker Müller are very honoured that their pioneering research projects have been selected for this substantial financial support.

    Volker Müller is one of the leading microbiologists worldwide in the field of microbial metabolism of microbes that grow in the absence of oxygen. His project centres on the production of biofuels with the help of bacteria that can use carbon dioxide as feedstock.

  • EU project INNOVIP: new technologies for long-lasting and cost-effective vacuum insulation panels

    Vacuum Insulation Panels. FIW München

    High-tech building insulation: EU research project INNOVIP to develop new technologies for long-lasting and cost-effective vacuum insulation panels. Munich – The demands from Brussels are ambitious: by 2050, office and private buildings in Europe must lower their CO2 footprint by around 80 percent, compared to 1990 levels (1). Optimal thermal insulation will play a key role in achieving this target. Vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) are particularly promising in this regard, but are still very expensive and difficult to work with. Moreover, to ensure a high level of market acceptance, the lifetime of the panels has to be improved.

  • Europe's microtechnology industry is attuned to growth

    Economic development in the European microtechnology industry 2017-2019. IVAM Research

    Global economic, social and political developments as well as technological disruptions like the digital transformation do not leave the representatives of the European microtechnology industry unaffected. Nevertheless, growth forecasts for the next three years are distinctively positive. More than 80 percent of the companies expect to increase sales in the period from 2017 to 2019. The number of employees is also expected to rise in more than three-quarters of the companies. Increasing growth rates during the last four years are likely to have given rise to this optimism in the microtechnology industry: since 2013, the share of companies that have been able to increase their turnover and their number of employees has risen steadily.

  • Evaluating Risk of Hydrogen Embrittlement: New Simulation of Cold Cracks in High-strength Steels

    Light microscopy image of a welded connection’s weld structure. © Fraunhofer IWM

    High-strength steels play a vital role in the construction of modern vehicles and machines. If these steels are welded during the production of components, mobile hydrogen atoms can cause problems within the material: the atoms accumulate slowly at highly stressed areas of a component, resulting in the steel becoming brittle at these locations. This can result in so-called cold break formations which can lead to component failure. Dr. Frank Schweizer of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM has developed a simulation method with which component manufacturers can assess cold break tendencies and adjust their production accordingly.

  • Evidence of the Higgs Particle's Decay in Quarks

    The illustration shows an event that could be the sought-after decay of the Higgs particle in quarks. Illustration: ATLAS collaboration

    Research group at the University of Freiburg contribute significant new findings to the ATLAS experiment.

    As part of the ATLAS collaboration, the Freiburg research group led by Prof. Dr. Karl Jakobs and Dr. Christian Weiser has contributed to finding strong evidence that, among other things, the Higgs particle decays into quarks. The researchers analyzed data sets that were recorded in 2015 and 2016 with the ATLAS detector at the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • Evonik Research Prize for lithium-ion battery test cell with separated electrodes

    A glass ceramic membrane, coated with aluminum and plastic, allows only lithium ions to pass through. It is impermeable to all other components of the electrolyte fluid. Photo: Monika Weiner / TUM

    For years, small rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have reliably supplied billions of portable devices with energy. But manufacturers of high-energy applications such as electric cars and power storage systems seek for new electrode materials and electrolytes. Michael Metzger, researcher at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), has now developed a new battery test cell allowing to investigate anionic and cationic reactions separately. Recently the researcher was honored with the Evonik Research Prize for his work.

  • Exotic Quantum States Made from Light: Physicists Create Optical “Wells” for a Super-Photon

    Potential wells The artist's rendering shows how potential wells are created for the light in the microresonator through heating with an external laser beam (green). © Photo: David Dung/Uni Bonn

    Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

  • Explanation for Puzzling Quantum Oscillations has been Found

    Ball bouncing chaotically in a stadium (top). If it starts near an unstable trajectory, it remains close to this trajectory for some time but eventually escapes (bottom). IST Austria/Maksym Serbyn

    So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics. Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a quantum simulator.

  • Exploring the Phenomenon of Superconductivity

    Types of pairing of two fermions. Figure: Puneet Murthy

    Fermions in flatland pair up at very high temperatures: Using ultracold atoms, researchers at Heidelberg University have found an exotic state of matter where the constituent particles pair up when limited to two dimensions. The findings from the field of quantum physics may hold important clues to intriguing phenomena of superconductivity. The results were published in Science magazine.

  • Faster, More Precise, More Stable: Study Optimizes Graphene Growth

    Visible to the naked eye: A wafer-thin graphene flake obtained via chemical vapor deposition. The red coloration of the copper substrate appears when the sample is heated in air. (Photo: J. Kraus/ TUM)

    Each atomic layer thin, tear-resistant, and stable. Graphene is seen as the material of the future. It is ideal for e.g. producing ultra-light electronics or highly stable mechanical components. But the wafer-thin carbon layers are difficult to produce. At the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Jürgen Kraus has manufactured self-supporting graphene membranes, and at the same time systematically investigated and optimized the growth of the graphene crystals. He was awarded the Evonik Research Prize for his work.

  • Fewer Laboratory Animals Thanks to Secondary Nanobodies

    Three-dimensional structure of a nanobody. Tino Pleiner and Sergei Trakhanov / MPI for Biophysical Chemistry

    Antibodies are indispensable in biological research and medical diagnostics. However, their production is time-consuming, expensive, and requires the use of many animals. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, have now developed so-called secondary nanobodies that can replace the most-used antibodies and may drastically reduce the number of animals in antibody production. This is possible because the secondary nanobodies can be produced in large scale by bacteria. Moreover, the secondary nanobodies outperform their traditional antibody counterparts in key cell-biological applications.

  • Fiber-based Quantum Communication - Interference of Photons Using Remote Sources

    Emission of single photons stemming from remote quantum dots. The wavelength of the single photons is manipulated by mixing them with strong laser fields within small crystals. University of Stuttgart/Kolatschek

    Scientists are working on the totally bug-proof communication – the so-called quantum communication. Current approaches for long-distance signal transmission rely on repeaters which are based on a crucial effect, the interference of two photons, that is, two individual light quanta coming from distant sources. Physicists from University of Stuttgart and Saarland University, in Germany, were now able to manipulate the single photons by means of small crystals without compromising their quantum mechanical nature. This manipulation is necessary to transmit the signal via optical fibers which may enable a large-area quantum network. The results were now published in Nature Nanotechnology.

  • Fighting Forgetfulness with Nanotechnology

    The international research team is working on a treatment on dementia like Alzheimer, which leads to a death of neuronal cells. © shutterstock.com/Naeblys

    About 29 million people around the world are affected by the disease "Alzheimer". In an international collaboration, scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz together with teams from Italy, Great Britain, Belgium and the USA are now working together on an approach for a therapy. On the one hand, the goal is to understand the processes occurring in the brain that lead to the disease; on the other hand the development of a method for targeted drug delivery.

  • Fine Felted Nanotubes: CAU Research Team Develops New Composite Material Made of Carbon Nanotubes

    In this new process, the tiny, thread-like carbon nanotubes (CNTs) arrange themselves - almost like felting - to form a stable, tear-resistant layer. Fabian Schütt

    Due to their unique properties, carbon nanotubes would be ideal for numerous applications, from ultra-lightweight batteries to high-performance plastics, right through to medical implants. But they either cannot be combined adequately with other materials, or they then lose their beneficial properties. Scientists from Kiel University and the University of Trento have now developed an alternative combining method, so that they retain their characteristic properties. As such, they "felt" the thread-like tubes into a stable 3D network that is able to withstand extreme forces. The research results have been published in the journal Nature Communications.